No one is forced to wish to die: Suicide narratives in Augustan and Neronian literature.
When the Tunesian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi committed suicide by setting himself on fire in 2011, it sparked public protests throughout Northern Africa, in the media called the 'Arabic Spring'. In this Master thesis, the narrative of suicide as a means of political protest is being looked at from a historical perspective. During the Augustan and Neronian principates of the Roman Empire, suicide was widely presented in literature. The Roman historian Livy framed the mythical suicide of Lucretia as a protest move that triggered the fall of the monarchy, while both Seneca's and Lucan's suicides under the rule of Nero were supposedly modelled after the suicide of Cato, the hero of the Republic. Under the Julio-Claudians, when ‘suicide literature’ peaked, as well as in present day, it seems that the use of suicide narratives within a political framework often increases under dictatorial rule.
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